I was enchanted with this book of short stories at first, but gradually lost enthusiasm as I progressed through the short stories. I love the author’s ability to draw characters through their actions and interactions with each other and their environment. I love her ability to create a sense of place and how her characters fit in that setting. I love the little thought-provoking moments in each story. But there was an unrelenting sameness to the stories. She likes Shirley Jackson-ish main characters: young people who live too much in their own heads, socially-awkward, alternating between remaining passively and resentfully where they are and impulsively jumping into situations that they then don’t know how to extricate themselves from. She also doesn’t seem to know how to wrap a story up. Most of them just end abruptly, like the author just ran out of things to say. Of the eight short stories, the best were “Brownies” and “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”
Paperback copy, which I will donate to the library as I don’t keep paperbacks that I rated fewer than 4 stars. Although this book has been on my physical TBR for two years, I don’t remember what prompted me to buy it. It was probably something I read when I was looking for TBR recs when I started the Book Riot challenge for We Need Diverse Books.
I read it for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 16 December 26th-31st: Book themes for Kwanzaa: Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black. The author, ZZ Packer, is African-American.